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MVFF34 Kicks Off in Style Tonight

Double-barreled opening night begins 11 days of movie madness in Mill Valley and San Rafael.

Starting tonight, our little town places itself at the center of the film universe for the 34th year, transforming Mill Valley into a cinematic mecca.

Opening night at this year's  offers audiences a choice between the 19th century and the 21st: , with Glenn Close as a top-hatted Victorian in the much-acclaimed role that she created off-Broadway, and the very of-the-moment Duplass brothers' slacker comedy, .

MVFF's closing night film on Oct. 16, , stars Cannes Best Actor Jean Dujardin and takes place in Hollywood in 1927, during the cinematic revolution replacing silent films with sound.

In between opening and closing and throughout , the festival -- now in its 34th year -- continues to offer a slew of choices.

This year's program includes a number of firsts -- 10 world, 9 North American and 9 U.S. premieres. As always, the MVFF offers an opportunity to see international films which often don't appear on U.S. screens - including films from France, the Philippines, Mexico, Israel, Australia, Poland, Uruguay and China.

A special focus on African film this year includes a and showings of six films from Burkina Faso, Morocco, Mali, Senegal and Ghana.

MVFF this year also focuses on "great Brits," which includes Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut film of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Steve McQueen in Shame" and , starring newcomer Ezra Miller.

There are a number of films featuring Oscar-worthy performances by women and by next-generation actors, including Miller and Antonia Campbell-Hughes. This year's festival includes a strong showing of Latin American films, ranging from Mexico to Brazil to Chile.

As always, numerous attending artists make the festival an opportunity to listen to filmmakers and actors talk about their work.

This year, Close, Miller and actress Michelle Yeoh, whose film focuses on Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, Luc Besson, the director of the film, as well as Simon Curtis, director of Centerpiece film, , as well as many others, will be in Mill Valley.

Films are screened at the in Mill Valley, the Christopher B. Smith/Rafael Film Center in San Rafael and the in Mill Valley.

Buy tickets through the MVFF.com website, by phone or in person at box offices in Mill Valley and San Rafael.

--Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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